I’m jealous. Yep, yep … I know we’re not supposed to admit that jealousy is an emotion we pack into our lives. But I must be honest here.

Why am I jealous?

Simple question to answer: My best friend is about to go on a trip to Colombia. Nick and several buddies are flying to Cartagena, and once they arrive there, they will hop across the region, going wherever their interests leads.

I wish I could join them. But this is Nick’s journey, a trip he’s making with friends from the New York area, where they grew up. For that reason, I’m delighted for him, but that doesn’t mean I ain’t jealous.

I feel that way partly because my friends from college and from high school — mostly from high school — have no interest in seeing the world. Their idea of a vacation is driving to Cedar Point to ride rollercoasters and merry-go-rounds or jumping on the Ohio Turnpike and heading to Chicago, Detroit and other familiar spots.

They refuse to follow the late Anthony Bourdain’s philosophy. “Parts Unknown” holds no allure for them.

Most of my childhood friends wouldn’t give a thought to sampling Ethiopian food or sushi; nor would they hop on a ship and sail the Caribbean. To them, an empanada might as well be a rodent and not a tasty and savory Latin American turnover.

Yet I don’t see how these friends are different from other Americans, who seldom explore the world beyond their neighborhoods.

A passport? Forget about it.   

That’s why I’m jealous of Nick, a 31-year-old actor. He’s bounced about like a drifter. He’s been to Havana, Playa del Carmen and Toronto, and in the summer of ’22, Nick pulled out his passport in France.

He’s made more trips to Kingston than Bob Marley ever did, and he’s been to Medellin, Colombia, and traveled with an ex-girlfriend a couple of times to the Dominican Republic. When I was teaching, Nick joined me and about a dozen students on a study abroad trip to Buenos Aires.

More than half his age, he’s kept pace with me on the number of countries I’ve visited. He’s not late to this globetrotting business. He’s had a passport since he was a boy. I was, oh, 36 or so when I got mine and didn’t start to use it regularly till the last five years.

I wasn’t interested in traveling for traveling’s sake. I can’t say why.

I was like most Black folk. They would rather have surgery for a root canal than hop on a jet and transverse the world. They didn’t have the sense of wonderment that drove Zora Neal Hurston, Nina Simone, James Baldwin and Langston Hughes to want to see whether the world outside their United States was more welcoming.

For those who need a more recognizable name, Malcolm X would fit into the globetrotter category.

I knew decades ago about Baldwin, Malcolm and the others I’ve mentioned. I enjoyed what Malcolm wrote about his travels.

I didn’t, however, enjoy it as much as hearing Nick’s stories about his journeys across the planet. That’s why I’m jealous.

Among best friends, jealousy has no place. So I just need to do more of what Nick’s doing – and what more black Americans should do — travel.